The City of Charlottetown said Thursday the bench statue of Sir John A. Macdonald isn’t going anywhere.
The Guardian reported in Thursday’s newspaper that council voted recently to leave the statue in place while discussions are held with key stakeholders in the Indigenous community.
However, there seems to be some confusion among members of council in regard to the issue. The city says there is no consideration being given to removing the statue – now or anytime in the future.
On June 25, council unanimously passed a resolution that the statue would remain in place. The resolution also went on to say that the city was to engage “appropriate stakeholders’’ to determine the next steps forward and tell the former prime minister’s full story.
The stakeholders include L’nuey, Mi’kmaq Confederacy of P.E.I. and the Native Council of P.E.I.
Council then tasked the city’s economic development, tourism and event management committee with executing the effort of talking to those stakeholders.
After that vote, Coun. Alanna Jankov, a member of the committee, told The Guardian that council voted to leave the statue in place pending those discussions.
“Just to be clear, council did not vote to leave it in place and tell the full story,’’ Jankov said. “Council voted to leave it up while conversations take place in the immediate future with (Indigenous stakeholders) and other groups yet to be identified.’’
At a meeting on Tuesday of that committee, Jankov reiterated her point, telling Mayor Philip Brown there is no sense in bringing the artist who did the statue, Colorado’s Mike Halterman, to Charlottetown to restore it if discussions determine the statue is to be removed.
On Thursday, Coun. Mike Duffy, who moved the resolution on June 25, clarified things, saying the statue is staying put – period.
“I don’t see where the confusion is, I really don’t,’’ Duffy said.
Coun. Kevin Ramsay, chairman of the committee, said the process of setting up meetings with stakeholders is underway.
“Council approved that the statue stays,’’ said Ramsay. “We are not removing it. We can’t displace history. We have to learn from our mistakes.’’
Ramsay said the point of engaging the stakeholders is to see how everyone wants to see Macdonald’s full story told.
There is a plaque next to the statue that briefly describes the country’s first prime minister’s role in Confederation, but there is no mention of his role as the architect of residential schools which separated Indigenous children from their parents and led to abuse and problems that have festered for more than a century.
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